Serving The Well Through an Administrative Social Work Internship: Valencia Jefferson

Administrative social work intern Valencia with two Well Community members

Over and over, we see how internships at The Well Community truly benefit interns and members alike. University of Southern California Master of Social Work intern Valencia Jefferson has experienced these two-way rewards while attending to the behind-the-scenes tasks at The Well.

While working toward a master’s degree in social work with a concentration in administration at the University of Southern California (USC), Valencia Jefferson realized she would need to complete an internship before graduation. She asked her professors for a recommendation, and they pointed her in the direction of The Well Community, which had an opening for a graduate social work intern at the time. Valencia had grown up in the Dallas area, so spending a year in Oak Cliff seemed a good fit. She interviewed at The Well last spring, and for the past eight months has been working there as a graduate social work intern with an administrative focus. Continue reading

Internships at The Well: Benefiting Students and Members

Director Alice Zaccarello, Ericka Ruiz and Gemma Cardenas, with UTA interns

Program Coordinator Gemma Cardenas understands the benefits of The Well Community’s internship program firsthand, not only from her role in supervising the students who participate, but from her own time as an intern. “It gave me the opportunity to apply everything that I had learned at school,” she recalls, adding that serving at The Well was vastly different from merely hearing about mental health in a classroom. “I learned so much from being here, so much more than from a textbook. It gave me a lot of confidence as well.” Continue reading

Holiday Hurdles: Stressors and Pressures That Make the Season Difficult for Those Living With Mental Illnesses

holiday-challenges

Christmastime is a generally a season of joy, but for those living with mental illnesses, it can be laden with challenges. Many aspects of this time of year can make managing a mental health condition even more difficult. In the midst of the festivities, keep in mind these three ways that the Christmas season can be hard for those dealing with mental illnesses. Continue reading

A Well World: An Overflow of Gratitude

In this season, even more than usual, I see blessings at every turn. As many of us prepare for Thanksgiving feasts and begin to buy gifts to show appreciation for loved ones, gratitude is a prevailing theme, and this focus makes it even easier to see the many things for which we are deeply thankful.

As I reflect on the ways The Well has been blessed recently, I feel gratitude bubbling up inside me for the many who give their time and their resources so that those in our community who live with serious mental illnesses have reason to give thanks as well. Continue reading

Mental Illness, Prayer and Extravagant Grace

The following blog was written by friend of The Well Community, Catherine Downing, at the invitation of Amy Simpson (author of  Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission) and posted on Amy’s site October 2, 2017. It is written from the perspective of a family member of a loved one who lives with chronic mental health issues. Catherine describes one way her deep faith strengthens her in the journey. Continue reading

Community: A Key to Saving Lives From Suicide

In our increasingly connected world, isolation and loneliness are becoming more and more common. But, they’re especially prevalent struggles for those living with mental illness, and they can have particularly devastating consequences: Both mental health challenges and lack of connection to others increase a person’s risk of suicide. Continue reading

Intertwined in Texas: Mental Illness and Poverty in the Lone Star State

It’s hard to overstate the weight of poverty in the lives of those dealing with mental illnesses. Poverty can both increase the likelihood that a person will suffer from mental health challenges and make it more difficult for those already living with these struggles to pursue recovery.

Many intertwining factors related to poverty create a tangled cycle for those living with mental health conditions. For example, a serious mental illness can make it difficult for a person to hold down a job. As a result of being out of work, they may be unable to afford healthy food or a bus pass to get to a doctor’s appointment, adding extra hurdles in managing their illness. They may lose their housing, further eroding their ability to pursue stability. And, as they lack the resources necessary to take steps to improve their mental health, they remain unable to work and their condition may become an even greater struggle. Continue reading

Overpowering Stigma With Community

For those who live with serious mental health conditions, stigma is constant companion. It follows them like a shadow they can’t escape, defining them by their illnesses in the minds of others and coloring the way they are seen in their communities with misconceptions. It causes them to be avoided or ignored at best, and often leads to discrimination and mistreatment. Continue reading

Six Ways to Help Others Become Aware of Mental Illness

Awareness of the truth about mental illnesses is a first step in learning to come alongside those whose lives are impacted by them. Although understanding and acceptance of these conditions are growing, much progress is required before those dealing with serious mental health challenges are met with support and friendship rather than fear. Below are six ways you can become an advocate for those living with mental illnesses by being able to help others gain awareness. Continue reading